Kaiser Permanente Awards $1.3 million to Community Groups to Increase Access to Public Food Programs

Grants to 15 organizations will do more than help hungry families enroll in CalFresh.

Kaiser Permanente (No. 2 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list)has awarded $1.3 million in grants to community groups across Northern California to bring healthy food to the homeless and others in need during the upcoming holidays.

Fifteen community groups serving vulnerable populations — health clinics, food banks, family and youth centers —  received grants ranging from $75,000 to $98,000. The grants are focused on enhancing the quality of outreach to people who are eligible for CalFreshCalifornia's Supplemental Nutrition Program, or food stamps. Grantee organizations will be working on their own, as well as working together to find innovative ways to make the process better for people who apply for this program in the future.

"Kaiser Permanente is happy to provide these grants in time for the holiday season," said Yvette Radford, vice president of External and Community Affairs for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

An estimated 2.5 million Californians who are eligible for CalFresh aren't enrolled. Radford said that when developing the guidelines for the grants, her staff reached out to several community organizations to find out why.

"What we heard most often is that the application process is a barrier, as is the stigma associated with needing public assistance in the first place," Radford said. "Increasingly, immigrant communities fear that applying for the benefit could affect their immigration status."

"A lot of people search for help in affordable food, and yet even when they find out about CalFresh and try to enroll they encounter a long and confusing application process," said ST Mayer, chief program officer, Code for America, the nonprofit organization that developed and delivers the GetCalFresh service.

GetCalFresh is free, mobile-first service that simplifies the CalFresh application process and supports applicants through phone text, email and live chat as they complete the various enrollment steps like document submission and an interview. GetCalFresh has served more than 102,000 people in 20 California counties this year alone.

"GetCalFresh not only makes applying quicker, easier and more accessible, the technology was built to answer questions people have throughout the application process and to return data and insights to our government partners," said Mayer. "The counties and organizations using GetCalFresh tell us that this approach goes a long way in reaching more people and providing an effective set of supports for people who are reaching out for help."

"While connecting people to healthy food is a positive outcome we can achieve with these grants, we're interested in finding ways to improve outreach and enrollment efforts by leveraging technology and building a stronger network of support for people needing help," said Radford.

Among the grant recipients are:

San Leandro-based Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center will use the grant to strengthen its CalFresh application assistance infrastructure and conduct CalFresh outreach to the center's patients. In addition, the organization will support Promotores de Salud (health promoters) in conducting outreach and providing CalFresh education in working low-income households and senior centers.

Second Harvest Food Bank, serving Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, will use its grant to recruit, and train community-based partner agencies and volunteer Promotores in their Food Connection Application Assistance Partnership project, and help them learn effecive techniques for reaching out to immigrants and seniors.

Sacramento Covered will use its grant to recruit and train college interns who will be co-located at various community-based sites, including WIC offices, libraries and schools to provide CalFresh outreach and application assistance, focusing on low-income households and individuals experiencing homelessness.

The complete list of grantees:

  • Alameda County Community Food Bank, Oakland
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton, Stockton
  • Center for Human Services (Ceres Partnership), Modesto
  • Family HealthCare Network, Hanford
  • Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Concord and Fairfield
  • Food, Inc. (Community Food Bank), Fresno
  • Ole Health, Fairfield
  • Placer Food Bank, Roseville
  • Redwood Community Health Coalition, Petaluma
  • Sacramento Covered, Rosemont
  • San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, San Francisco
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties, San Carlos, San Jose
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, Watsonville
  • Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Daly City, Fremont Hayward, San Leandro
  • Yolo County Children's Alliance, Davis, South Sacramento